Horse slaughter policy in America has entered a new era.
Back in 2006, Congress instituted a ban on the use of federal money toward the inspection of horses headed for slaughter. The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service requires that meat undergo a federal inspection before being distributed as food, and the absence of that funding stood as a formidable fiscal barrier.
Five years later, that ban has been lifted. The Christian Science Monitor writes that a Nov. 18 Department Of Agriculture bill quietly reinstated the use of federal funding.
The Oklahoman adds that a Government Accountability Office report played a role in the change. Entitled "Actions Needed To Address Unintended Consequences from Cessation of Domestic Slaughter," the July 2011 report highlights how horse welfare declined over the past few years. The United States' domestic ban shifted the market to foreign countries like Canada and Mexico, with hundreds of thousands of horses still slaughtered in 2010.
"The extent of the decline is unknown due to a lack of comprehensive, national data, but state officials attributed the decline in horse welfare to many factors, but primarily to the cessation of domestic slaughter and the U.S. economic downturn," the report writes.
The decision does not sit well with some animal rights groups. The Equine Welfare Alliance, a group focused on horses' welfare, released a position paper in response to the GAO report, slamming "disturbing omissions" that favored slaughter lobbyists.
"The GAO has a reputation for objective and thorough research and fair reporting," the group writes. "Every indication is that this standard was abandoned in the compilation of this report, and that the result is little short of a propaganda tool for horse slaughter interests."
Supporters of the bill see a different side. State Rep. Sue Wallis (R-Wyo.) told The Oklahoman back in November, "everyone in the horse world is so excited we may have an opportunity to turn the whole equine market around."